Superman Returns! (D12 in LA)

The biggest anticipation of the whole 2012 season and summer offseason was where would Dwight Howard end up. Would D12 stay in Orlando, go to the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, or the Los Angeles Lakers. Anticipation soon turned to frustration as the Dwightmare saga continued for over a year span. One day he would say he wants to stay in Orlando then the next day he would demand a trade. It was like Brett Favre’s retirement all over again. After months of trade rumors and the Lakers even considering offering Andrew Bynum an extension, I truly had given up on the prospects of gaining Dwight and believed that Bynum would be the future Center for the Lakers. Then splash the waters of the Red Sea had finally parted. On August 11th it was announced that the Los Angeles Lakers had acquired the Man of Steel Superman Dwight Howard in a 4 team trade with the Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, and Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers received Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark from Orlando, Philadelphia got Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Jason Richardson from Orlando, Denver received Andre Iguodola, and the Magic received Aaron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver along with Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga from the Lakers, and from the Sixers Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic. Orlando has received future picks in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017. Many have said that Orlando got the short stick on this trade but I definitely disagree they were able to shed salary while get draft picks and young players to build for the future. The Magic are using the Sam Presti model in OKC by building for the future in the draft. In fact if Dwight Howard didn’t opt into his contract last season with Orlando they would have received nothing in return and lost him in free agency. I feel every team won in this trade and it is a fair trade on all sides. Everybody got what they wanted. The Lakers got that big man and defensive presence, the Sixers got a big scoring center, Denver got an All-star athletic wing, and Orlando got young, relieved salary cap and future draft picks. We are just fortunate that David Stern kept his nose out of vetoing this trade (CP3 hiding in the corner).

It is sad to see Andrew Bynum leave the Lakers. He was just coming off his first Allstar season and was the number 2 option in the Lakers offense.  He posted 18pg and 11pg with almost 2 bpg. He was a force in the paint, when he WANTED to be. That is the key phrase that Andrew Bynum has the Randy Moss syndrome “He plays when he wants to play.” I have always been a huge fan of Andrew Bynum and believe he has great potential but the fact that he would literally take himself out of the play if he didn’t receive his first touch was just upsetting to watch. I know that he is a young 24 year old kid and has much to learn and grow because I am a month older than he is, and let me tell you immaturity and learning how to control emotions is something that is a process that everyone even myself goes through. Dwight Howard as well is not mature as we have seen his flip flopping trade demands and removals this season so they both even out in that category. But when the Lakers were able to land Dwight Howard I was ecstatic.

Here is why Superman has entered the building ala Staples Center. Dwight Howard is an absolute force on the defensive side as well as catching the ball under the rim. He is literally the reincarnation of Shaquille Oneal. The reason why I like the Dwight Howard trade is because Superman brings it on D every night. Dwight Howard has already been 3 time Defensive Player of the Year and he is only 26. Howard has also been to 6 All-Star games and reached the Finals in 2009 losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. So Howard knows what it is like to reach the big stage. Howard needs LA just as much as the Lakers need him. LA will repair Howard’s image and make him an even bigger star and Howard in return will help Kobe along with Nash and Gasol bring home a title to Hollywood. Another giant reason why Dwight fits the Lakers is because of the acquisition of Steve Nash on July 4th. Nash now has a set of keys to his new toys. Nash will be able to run the pick in roll to perfection with Gasol and Dwight and there will now be a new “lob city” in LA and the Lakers own the rights to the airspace. D12 will see a lot of alley oops; lob passes, tip-ins and offensive rebounds. Dwight is a player who plays off the ball more than Bynum would. Howard is one of the best offensive rebounders in the game and he will have many opportunities to get easy baskets from boarding the glass and tip-ins. In Los Angeles Dwight will no longer be option 1 like he was in Orlando so there is a lot of ease and no pressure on him now. All Dwight has to do is play Defense, rebound the basketball and get easy dunks. It is the perfect scenario for Dwight he will be on a championship caliber team and the pressure is off him to score 25 and get 20 rebounds. Also adding Dwight Howard he has the chance to follow in the line of great Hall of Fame Centers from George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Shaq.

Shaq like Dwight was the first pick in the draft from Orlando and then moved to the Lakers. Shaq and Dwight both reached the Finals in Orlando and lost, both nicknamed Superman, both Dominant bigs, both gregarious personalities, and both wanting the chance to win rings. Well Shaq was able to win 3 titles in LA, and Dwight is looking to do the same.

Superman returns to LA and this time he has all the necessary pieces to ensure that the Larry Obrien Trophy returns to Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant is still one of the greatest players and scorers the NBA has ever seen, along with adding Nash who is the best passing point guard in the NBA, and Pau Gasol who is an athletic skilled 7 foot big man who can extend the floor. To add Dwight Howard arguably the best center in the NBA who is a force in the middle and a defensive block shot beast is almost incredulous to think about and literally makes the Lakers an unstoppable force and favorites to win the NBA Finals. Not to mention the Lakers still have Metta Ron Artest Peace who is still one of the best lock down defenders in the league with an improved bench of sharpshooter Jodie Meeks, backup point guard Chris Duhon, and resigning Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks. The Lakers look to be very lethal and deadly just like the Black Mamba himself Kobe Bryant. If there was ever a statement that Kobe wanted to dethrone the Miami Heat and reclaim his glory as NBA champion it was acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. The Lakers have just taken the king out and said Checkmate game over. “Yall playing checkers, while we playing chess” –Kobe Bryant. That is why Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak are the best front office in all of sports, it’s because they are not afraid to make the big-time moves.

Kobe Bryant welcomes the return of Superman as he goes for his last hurrah as a world champion. This is the most talented team that has been assembled. I don’t believe that chemistry will be an issue because Nash, Kobe, and Gasol are all veterans and know how to win. Nash is hungry for his first title and Kobe is hungry to get his 6th. There could not be a better scenario for the Lakers than the upcoming 2013 season. Landing D12 to LA has made me giddy and brings the most anticipation for any season since the 2010 Lakers championship. Lakers fans are now rejuvenated and like Dwight said about his coming to the Lakers “excited.” Dwight is excited to put on the purple and gold and so are the fans. Not to knock Bynum but when you are not excited to be a Laker any longer and tell the world you could play anywhere well that means your time in LA is up buddy. Unfortunately we had to say good bye to a big-time presence but fortunately we get to say Hello to a larger than life Superman. The Lakers now have another chance to build a dynasty. They could possibly win not 1, not 2, not 3, well you know how the rest goes. Dwight has the keys to the franchise after Kobe retires and now can compete to win many championships here in LA. The Lakers don’t rebuild they reload.

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Lakers: One Chess Piece Away

Lakers beat the Celtics on Sunday proving that the rivalry between the 2 most winning franchises is still in tact. The Lakers this year have been DOMINANT at home cruising to an 18-2 home record, but have been abysmal like an upset stomach needing Pepto Bismol on the road albeit 7-14. The Lakers have been 2 different teams apart from the Staples Center. At home the Lakers are unstoppable, but on the road they look anemic and out of sync. The biggest play of the Lakers vs Celtics game Sunday was a play drawn up in a timeout by Kobe Bryant. Kobe knew that the Celtics would expect the ball to come to him, so he decided to feed his power Big Bynum who was beasting all game let alone this season. The ball entered Bynum’s hands deep into the post and Andrew lofted up a sweet skyhook ala Kareem Abdul Jabbar which was the final blow to put the Celtics away. The Lakers now own the season series 2-0 against the Celtics, and it was another signature win for the Lakeshow. The other big wins for the Lakers this season was the 93-83 10 point blowout of the “Mighty” Miami Heat, a game in which the Masked Mamba dominated with 33 “payback for Dwade breaking my nose” points, and Bynum Gasol and Metta World War added a combined 44 points. It seems that Metta World Peace becomes Metta World War when the Lakers play big games vs top teams. Dwayne was ejected from that game and the Lakers and Kobe had sweet revenge against the hated Heat. The Lakers also beat the reigning champion Mavericks in Dallas 96-91. The key thing for the Lakers is to FEED the Bigs cuz they HUNGRY hungry hippos! Bynum is having a career year with 17 ppg and 12 rpg even starting in his 1st All Star Game. Pau Gasol has stepped it up lately and is contributing with double double games and he is averaging 16.6 ppg and 10.5rpg. The Masked Mamba has been unstoppable. Everyone expects it, it is just Kobe being Kobe. Kobe the Closer Assassin is averaging 28.8 pts looking for his 3rd scoring title and hopefully his 6th Championship ring.

So what does this team need in order to get back to the Finals and win it. Well the Lakers are just one chess piece away from winning it all. The coveted piece the Lakers desperately need is a YOUNG Athletic scoring point guard. The Lakers need to a Deron Williams or  Rajon Rondo to get back into serious contention. DWill would open up the floor so much for the Bigs with his innate passing ability as well as his ability to drive to the lane and score, not to mention that he is a terrific 3 point shooter (something the Lakers lack). Dwill is perennially the best point guard in the game, and if the Lakers were able to sign him than they would be able to hoist the #17 Banner in Staples Center. Rondo is also a great fit for the Lakers as he can lob it to Bynum as well as penetrate to the cup himself. The Lakers desperately need a point guard to signing an elite young point guard not only helps the present but also the future. Forget trying to aquire Dwight Howard, Bynum has proven to be just as good if not better. The Lakers real concern is starting point guard and bench play. The Bench for the Lakers is non-existent and looks like a jv girls basketball team. Derek Fisher who is clutch is even old in dinosaur years as he gets torched on a nightly basis on the defensive end. Steve Blake is not much better? Im not sure why he even has a job in the NBA. He does nothing right. He cant shoot or hit the wide open 3 ball, he cant defend, not a good passer, and he cant drive to the lane and score. The only bright spot for guard play other than Kobe Bryant is the Mini Mamba aka Andrew Goudelock who has proven he can hit the perimeter jumpshot as well as penetrate to the hoop and score. So for the Lakers to stop being inconsistent on the road and play like they do at home, they need a young scoring athletic point guard. I would prefer Dwill over Rondo for the fact that Rondo is an inconsistent shooter and relies on beating his opponents off the dribble. Ultimately if the Lakers play inside out and feed there Twin Towers like we have seen against Boston, Miami, and Dallas then nobody can stop them. Bynum and Gasol need to demand the ball and stay physical and Ron Metta Artest needs to go World War on cats and start the rumble in the jungle. Kobe will remain the Black Mamba and strike at will, but the Lakers need a younger point guard who is a proven scorer and facilitator to bring them back to that Championship level. Lamar Odom is really what the Lakers miss in terms of bench play, he was a do it all type of player that our second unit lacks right now. If the Lakers believe they can contend for a Title they need to tighten up on bench play as well as go after a solid young starting point guard. Lakers Management will either wait until the offseason to make a Blockbuster free agent signing, or they will try to ride this thing out. The trade deadline is only 3 days away and it appears that Mitch Kupchak is being forced to sit on his hands by management and try to clear as much cap space as possible. Jim Buss is trying to save money and make a profit and appears unwilling to spend to get maximum output type of quality players. We will see if the Lakers can make a trade for Deron Williams or Rajon Rondo, but by my estimation the Lakers might only make a few small tweaks if any and keep this current roster in tact. From here until March 15th its all a waiting game, like Dec 24th and hoping to wake up in the morning to unwrap an Xbox 360 underneath the Christmas Tree. Will the Lakers land a 360? We will just wait and find out.

Kobe vs Lebron. Lets Settle This Once and For ALL

Kobe vs Lebron. Lets Settle This Once and For ALL.
(Inside the numbers)

The age old question Kobe or Lebron who is better? The career averages of both players are actually quite similar to my disbelief but the biggest difference is RINGS. Advantage Kobe Bryant. Kobe literally has a handful of NBA Championship Rings at 5 while Lebron James is at a goose egg with 0. Kobe has been to the Finals a total of seven times where he has won it five of those times that’s a 71% rate. On the other hand Lebron has been to the Finals a total of two times and he has never won the title. I’m not to sure of the math but last time I checked 0/2=0. Kobe won his first title in just his 5th NBA season. Lebron James is entering is 9th NBA season and is still Ringless. So on the greatest stage off the basketball world I would pick Kobe Bryant because he knows how to get the job done and win the big game. Kobe Bryant has earned the title of “The Closer” and the “Black Mamba” because he is an assassin on the court and closes out games and series in the clutch.
James however has not had the same success rate as Kobe. Lebron lost in the NBA Finals both times he has been there. In 2007 Lebron James was not so kingly as his Cleveland Cavaliers got swept by Tim Duncan and the Spurs. Then nobody can forget last season 2011 when Lebron did a disappearing magic trick in the Finals and the Miami Heat and the so called “Big Three” lost to Dirk Nowitizki and the Mavs 4-2. In a total of NBA Finals games Lebron is 2-8; whereas Kobe is 23-15. Even in one of Kobe’s worst shooting performance games in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals where he shot only 6-24 he still scored 23 points but even more impressively willed his team to victory with 15 rebounds. In the 4th quarter of the 2011 Finals the time when the greats are supposed to shine, Lebron averaged only 3 points. For over 72 minutes of fourth quarter play LBJ only mustered up 18 total points when his team needed him the most. Kobe in the 2010 Finals averaged 28.5 points a game to Lebron’s 17 ppg.

Lets take a look at the regular season comparisons. The first few seasons for Kobe Bryant are skewed for the fact that former Lakers coach Del Harris did not give Kobe Bryant many minutes while Lebron instantaneously started for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kobe’s rookie season he only received 15.5 minutes while Lebron was averaging an astonishing 39.5 for a Rookie. Even in Kobe’s second year he only averaged 26 minutes a game to James’ 42. During Kobe’s first 2 seasons he only started 7 games out of 150 compared to James 159 games out of 159 (that’s 100% for you math geniuses).

Overall the career averages for Kobe and Lebron are alike. Kobe Bryant has averaged 25.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg (rebounds), 4.7 ast, .5 blocks, 1.5 steals, and 2.9 turnovers a game. Lebron James has averaged 27.7 with 7.1 rpg (rebounds), 7 assists, .8 blocks, 1.7 steals, and 3.3 turnovers. These figures may seem quite similar but who is more efficient? Well Kobe shoots the rock at a career average of 45.4% FG and shoots the 3-ball at 33.7%. Lebron averages from the field 48% FG with a 3 point FG of 33.1%. Both players are known for slashing to the hoop and getting to the free throw line which in turn creates foul trouble for the opposition and easy points for ones team. This should be a close comparison right? Not at all! In the easiest of all shot opportunities where the shot is called a “Free Throw” because it is basically two free points, Kobe Bryant annihilates Lebron in this category with a much higher efficiency. Lebron’s career free throw percentage is a measly 74%. Kobe on the other hand thrives to get to the line and make the most of his opportunities by shooting a career average of 83%. Kobe is nearly 10% better at shooting free throws than Lebron. For the amount of times that Lebron gets to the line you would think his free throw percentage should be higher. Its not. His free throw shooting actually hurts his team, while Kobe’s free throws have helped the Lakers win games. Another interesting fact is 2.9 to 3.3; those are the turnovers per game for both Kobe and Lebron. Lebron turnovers the ball more than Kobe as he tries to play the point guard position maybe more than he should be doing. At six foot eight Lebron should utilize his size more posting up smaller defenders and using his strength to get easy baskets. Kobe has perfected the post up as he took a full summer to learn from the great Hakeem Olajuwan. Kobe Bryant signature moves are going into the post and pulling out his turnaround fade-away jumper that is virtually unstoppable. Kobe picks his spots on the court where he knows he can get his shot off with a high success rate. The triple pump fake still gets defenders in the air as he coolly drains a jumper in between there eyes. Lebron far too settles on dribbling to the top of the key as shooting an ill-advised contested three pointer. Lebron James is at his best when he is driving to the hoop. But that begs the same question. Why if Lebron is so good at driving in the lane can he not make free throws?

Since we are talking about clutch factor lets compare Kobe and Lebron in the postseason when it really counts. Kobe and Lebron’s postseason numbers are nearly identical to that of their regular season. Kobe’s career postseason average is 25.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.8 ast, 1.4 steals, .7 blocks, and has a field goal percentage of 44.8% while shooting the 3 ball at 33.5% and has an 81.5% free throw percentage. Lebron averages 28 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 7 ast, 1.7 steals, 1 block, and shoots from the field 46%, 3 point FG 32.3%, and free throws at 71.4%. A big number that jumps out at me is 2.9 vs 3.6 and that is the turnover difference between Kobe and Lebron. Kobe has the lesser of turnovers which yields his team more opportunities to score and not let the opposition create easy transition baskets. The biggest number to this whole playoff comparison is 5-0 and that is Kobe’s championships compared to Lebron.

Lets take individual game performances now. We all now that Wilt “the Stilt” Chamberlain holds the record for most points in a game with 100, but where do Lebron and Kobe stand in that category. Well Kobe Bean Bryant is second all-time in most points in a game when he dropped 81 points on January 22, 2006 vs. the Toronto Raptors. Kobe also has dropped a 65 point game vs. the Portland Trailblazers back in 2007, a 60 point game against Memphis Grizzlies in 2006, as well as a 62 point game vs. the Dallas Mavericks in 2005 and Kobe didn’t even play in the 4th quarter of that game. How many 60 point games or more has Lebron scored? You don’t say. That’s right ZERO. Lebron has never cracked 60+ or over. Kobe has done that 4 times! How about we examine who has scored more 40 plus games in their career, Kobe or Lebron. Well Lebron has scored only had 46 40+ games compared to Kobe’s 111 and counting 40+ games. By the way Kobe has scored 40+ in 4 straight games this 2011-2012 season.

This season Kobe is entering his 16th season at 33 years of age while Lebron is entering his 9th season at 27 years of age. Kobe Bryant has battled an injury seemingly in almost every season but like the warrior he is he has powered through until the end. Kobe Bryant this season alone is averaging 30.5 pg, 5.6 ast, and 5.7 rpg. James is averaging 28.9 pg, 7.1 ast, and 8.1 rpg. I would say Kobe isn’t doing so bad for an “old timer” compared to the youthful whippersnapper. Kobe already has 2 scoring titles looking for his third compared to Lebron’s 1 scoring title. This season they are going head to head against each other to claim the coveted NBA regular season MVP award. This race will be neck and neck all season but I give the slight edge to Kobe so far because he is in his 16th season playing with a torn ligament in his right hand shooting wrist and still leading the NBA in points per game.

Here are some of the accolades and accomplishments that Kobe and Lebron both have received during their NBA careers. Kobe Bryant set the for the record of most 3 point field goals made in a game when he drained 12 in 2003 against the former Supersonics know the OKC Plunder I mean Thunder (Donyell Marshall tied Kobe’s record of 12 in 2005 against the 76ers). Lebron James career high of 3 point field goals made in a game is 8, which is still impressive but it doesn’t leave you awestruck like Kobe’s 12. When it comes to being the best in the NBA a player is named to the All-NBA first team and the defensive equivalent is All-NBA defensive First team. Kobe has been on the All-NBA First Team 8 times, All-NBA second team 2 times, and All NBA 3rd team 2 times. Defensively Kobe is also at the top of the NBA. He has been named to the All-NBA Defensive First Team 8 times, and All Defensive 2nd team 2 times. Contrary, Lebron has been named to the All-NBA first team 5 times, All-NBA second team 2 times, and 3 times All-NBA Defensive first team selections. Lebron has 2 regular season MVP awards compared with Kobe’s 1 (Steve Nash stole 3 away from Bryant). Kobe is a 12 time All-star and has won the All-star game MVP award 4 times, while James has been an All-star 7 times receiving the MVP award twice. The more important MVP award is the Finals MVP award because that means your team has been crowned NBA Champions. Kobe has received the NBA Finals MVP Award twice en route of his 5 Championship Titles, Lebron has been to the Finals twice and has not received the Finals MVP award, but instead has gone home (fishing) empty handed.

When it all comes down to it who is more clutch? Who do you want to have the ball in their hands with less than 5 seconds left? Kobe or Lebron? Here are the facts Kobe Bryant has made 38 Gamewinning shots. Out of those 38 gamewinners 8 of those were buzzer beaters! Kobe has also sank 23 game tying shots to send his team in Overtime. In the playoffs the most dramatic of all stages Kobe has hit 7 gamewinning shots, 3 game tying shots to send to OT, and 1 Gamewinner and 1 Game tying shot in the NBA Finals. The Black Mamba knows to strike the iron when its HOT. Lebron James has only 12 gamewinning shots, 0 in the Finals, 1 in the playoffs, and overall 2 buzzer beaters. It is CLEAR that when the game is on the line you want to have the best Closer in the game finishing it and that is KOBE! The biggest difference between Kobe and Lebron is that Kobe wants the ball in his hands in the final seconds of the game. Lebron does not, and he rather kick it out to the likes of Chris Bosh or even Dwayne Wade.

Let me give you 5 Championship reasons why Kobe Bryant is better than Lebron. Drive- nobody has the will and desire like Kobe. Determination- Kobe is focused at all times and his mission is NBA Championships. Kobe the Black Mamba and he is a killer on the court. You can’t tell Kobe he can’t do something because he will do it and prove you wrong. Intensity- Nobody has the passion and hunger to be the Best and Win like Kobe. Hardwork- There is no harder worker in the NBA than Kobe. He is in the gym from sunrise to sunset, always training always desiring to get better. Lastly natural raw Talent. Kobe is one of a kind. Sure everyone in the NBA is talented in the NBA but when you put your talent to hardwork, intensity, drive, and determination that my friend is how you become the BEST. Lebron has sheer talent, and he might be the most talented player in the league, but he does not have that same hunger, passion, and fire that separates Kobe from the pack.

“Kobe Bryant. I would have to say right now. He’s a really really good player. Individually he has some of the best skills that the NBA has ever seen in history. He’s shown year after year why he has been the best players in our league.”

“I try to get a dictionary and find a word that what he’s doing right now and I’m definitely just lost for words. I mean he is amazing. I’ve been quoted saying he’s definitely the best player in our league, to me in my eyes the best scorer in our league, and its unbelievable. I don’t know, its not another guy in our league that can accomplish some of the things that he’s doing right now.”

“’I’d give it to Kobe ,” James said. ”What he’s done this whole year, to carry that team to the No. 1 team in the West right now. He’s playing his best basketball all around. I’ve watched him the whole year. I saw it last summer when I played with him with USA Basketball and the sacrifices he’s made for the team and he’s done that with the Lakers.

“He’s someone I idolized in high school.”

“[Kobe] was someone when I was in high school I looked up to. [Kobe] going straight out of high school and seeing the success he had, I looked up to him. Like I said, its always a pleasure and honor to be out on the same court with one of the greatest.”

These are all quotes from Lebron James.

When asked who is better Kobe or Lebron? Michael Jordan responded with a simple answer, “Kobe Bryant.”